Confederates, St Pat's content to share spoils

TWELVE months ago if St Pat's had posted a 2-all draw with Confederates they would have considered it an opportunity gone begging, but when splitting the points with their women's Premier League Hockey rivals on Saturday it was a satisfying result.

Much has changed from 2013 when the Saints snagged the premiers' crown, a bulk of their experienced core having retired following their success last September.

It meant a young looking line-up, many of them under 15 district representatives, took part in Saturday's 2014 season opener at Bob Roach Field.

"I am extremely satisfied with that result and the future of the club looks good," stand-in Pat's coach Brad Fulton said. "That was almost a second Premier League side for us and for them to hold their own in an intense game like that speaks volumes for what we have coming through.

"The season sort of snuck up on us. Because of the amount of teams they had to pull the draw forward which meant we had to scramble for some young kids. Depth - what can I say? You can't have enough of it."

Just as a draw pleased a Saints side who had posted 2-0 and 6-0 victories over Confederates last season, the Orange outfit were delighted to earn early competition points. 

"Just to get a draw was great. For the girls to know they can play hockey like that and get a draw against St Pat's - psychologically it is a good way for them to start the year," coach Mark Pengilly said of his Confederates side that had won just one game in the past two seasons.

"There were a couple of patches where we went to sleep a bit, especially after half-time, but we fought it out to the end. I thought we dominated the first half."

It was 14-year-old Grace Evans who offered early hope to Confederates on Saturday as after seven minutes she made St Pat's goalkeeper Karen Fieldus show exactly why she is an Australian Country representative. 

The young, fleet-footed striker got in behind the Saints defence, Fieldus having to make a double block - including making a tackle with her stick - to hold her out. 

Sarah Kelly also came close for the visitors off their first penalty corner play of the match, an Alana Webber block on the line denying her.

While Confederates had a string of missed opportunities, when the young Saints got just their second chance of the match they capitalised to take the lead.

It came from the Saints' second penalty corner, Jessika Haywood deflecting Kirralee Naylor's intital strike into the net 15 out from the break.

However, by the time the half-time whistle sounded it was 1-all as Annette Pakinga found the left corner of the net when given too much space inside the circle.

The second half saw the Saints notching up more circle penetrations, but the visitors were dangerous on the break, Fieldus again required to make a one-on-one block when Evans broke clear.

But Fieldus could do nothing about a penalty corner play which saw a bobbling ball find its way into her net off Georgia Parr's stick, Confederates finding themselves in a rare position as they led the match 2-1.

Ultimately the game finished in a 2-all draw after a Saints short corner variation that saw Naylor pass left to Caitlin Davis worked with 10 minutes remaining, but both sides felt it was a fitting result.

"There were a lot of young kids in key positions which was different as normally they'd share one or two spots and today they shared five or six," Fulton said.

"They are just a little bit behind the eight-ball on how to defence and their position in scrambling defence, but that's just a lack of experience. That will come."

ST PAT'S 2 (Jessika Haywood, Caitlin Davis) drew with CONFEDERATES 2 (Annette Paking

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